More Discoveries

By Sr. Fidelis

We have taken a “romp” through the eight Church Modes over these past weeks and, for each mode, we have talked about the principal pitches, the Reciting Tone, and Home Tone.  There is always a “descent,” to the Home Tone at the end of the chants we have looked at, which gives it a feeling of “settling,” or completion.

In some of the older books for the Divine Office and the Mass, you will see some chants with no Mode listed in the customary place to the left of the piece.  If you look carefully at the Agnus Dei posted below, here is a case in point!  This Agnus Dei begins on Sol.  It goes above and below this pitch, but then, instead of descending to a lower pitch, it returns to the same pitch it began on.  It is almost as if the melody were “circular” —returning to its start!

There have been many studies done on Modality over the years, and it has been discovered that some of the melodies that have the same Reciting and Home Tone are very ancient—the beginnings of the chant melodies.

We’ll be looking into some of these discoveries in the weeks to come!

Agnus Dei

(No audio this week.)

This entry was posted in Church of the Transfiguration, Gregorian Chant, Liturgy of the Hours by Sr. Fidelis. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sr. Fidelis

I am 46 years old, and have been a Sister at the Community of Jesus for 26 years. Having grown up here, I have been singing Gregorian chant since I was 10! I was very blessed to study Gregorian chant with Dr. Mary Berry in Cambridge, England and here at home. Recently, I have been able to do some radio and tv interviews, sharing about the blessings of Gregorian chant. I love leading chant workshops, and have been able to do that in the US and abroad.

One thought on “More Discoveries

  1. You can find the analysis I made on both Sanctus and Agnus Dei in my two last posts on page
    My conclusion for the Agnus Dei is that it belongs to a bi-polar mode with reciting tone La and home tone Sol. Bi-polar modes are an intermediate between the most ancient mode where the reciting and home tones are the same and the eight modes where they are 2 to 5 steps apart (the eight modes are the subset of bi-polar modes that were retained in the repertory).

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